April / May 2015

Inside this Newsletter:


Message from Carolyn:

We're headed back to Colorado (from Tucson) in only a few days. Dread the 14 1/2 hour drive straight through with our 6 cats, but look forward to getting a second spring in Colorado (My friend Mary Lynn says her Bleeding Hearts are blooming in Lakewood. Mine in the mountains are usually right behind hers!). Also look forward to seeing old friends and my clients. This has been a great winter in Tucson -- warm, lots of new friends, tons of events, Alan played a lot of golf, and my garden is going great (see pix below).

My office hours in Denver will begin on Wed, May 6, noon to 6 pm at 44 Cook St, Suite #100 in Cherry Creek. The phone number is still the same (& is transferred down here in Tucson at the moment): 303-333-1888. And to all of my Denver phone clients, feel free of course to continue by phone since for many of you, it's a lot easier -- or schedule to come in when I get back.

There has been some bad news in the last couple of months, as my sister (Ruth Krueger) has had her cancer return (she's had breast cancer twice before, starting at 40). Please put her in your prayers and/or visualize her getting well. Alan & I (& mom) plan to go see her in June. It's been a difficult time for all of us.

Also, our old friend Grady Sanders passed in March. We hadn't seen him in a few years, but years ago we had so much fun with him. I put the following on his Facebook Page: "Though Alan & I haven't seen Grady since he moved to Dallas, we had great times partying with him when he lived in Denver and LA. From Chasen's in Beverly Hills, the Ritz Carleton in Newport, and the casinos in Vegas and Colorado, we have lots of great memories. He always brought humor and class each time we had the pleasure of his company and his magnetic personality. He was one of a kind and we will greatly miss him!"

The contents of this newsletter have a lot to do with the fact that I have quite a few domestic violence cases right now that I'm working with. See my articles below, "Am I Not Good Enough?" and "Why We Let People Control Us." Other topics my clients are dealing with are:

  1. "What to do since my fiancée is a born-again Christian and I'm and Agnostic?"

  2. "I keep screaming and cursing out my friends and husband. Why am I so Angry?"

  3. "I'm married and with a kid now and have decided I don't like this life that I've created with my wife. What should I do?"

  4. "My husband thinks he's right about everything and I used to be a confident woman, but now I'm starting to question myself more. What can I do?"

I also have a question I answered from a South African woman. I've titled it: Q&A: Help We're losing our connection." (See below)

On a more upbeat note, see the picture below of our grandson all dressed up for church on Easter. He will be 3 in June. We are looking forward to seeing him and how much he has grown!

Again, we'll be back in a week or so to beautiful Colorado!!

Carolyn

Am I Not Good Enough?

My Denver clients who are dealing with rejection, breakups, and low self-esteem usually ask themselves this question: Am I not good enough? Actually I think there is not a person alive, male or female, who hasn't at some time asked themselves this when a relationship is going bad.

Even Natalie Wood felt this way with Robert Wagner, according to the Enquirer who was quoting a book excerpt from the book: Natasha: The Biography of Natalie Wood, by Suzanne Finstad. A few years before her death and after she knew Robert Wagner was cheating on her, she wrote in her diary, "It's my fault. What's wrong with me?" It's very common for both men and women to feel this way when they have been cheated on. In fact, Sam Smith sings about this in his song, "I'm not the Only One." His words say, "Maybe I am just not enough, You made me realize my deepest fear....Cause you don't think I know what you've done." And "not being good enough" is most people's greatest fear.

My Denver client, Marissa, an attractive, successful 45-year-old woman, has felt this way most of her life. She's pretty sure her husband hasn't cheated, but he recently said he needed a "time out" and moved out of their home. His words and behavior don't match, as he says he wants to work it out, but he continues to not return her texts and emails except when he feels like it. When he doesn't contact her back, it's usually to avoid taking any responsibility for the part he played in their break up, and also to regain control in the relationship. For years he has often withdrawn, and it usually works. Marissa has, in the past, scrambled back to being overly nice to him and letting him off the hook for his part because her "Am I not good enough" button gets pushed when he withdraws. She's now realizing the dysfunction and that his pulling back is about his bad behavior (his defense mechanism) and has little to do with her, except that it has worked in the past. When she no longer reacts, he tells her, "Who are you? I don't even know you anymore."

The minute she asked herself, or you ask yourself, if you're good enough, you hand control over to your partner. Why do we do this? Marissa is relating to her husband the same way she always has with her dad. He was seldom at home when she was growing up, and when he was, he treated Marissa like she didn't matter. Her key issue is abandonment -- both emotional and physical. Her husband did both this time which created a perfect dysfunctional relationship for the two of them to play out over and over -- until she came to me for therapy.

If you have been asking yourself if you're good enough or not, remember no one is perfect, including the person making you feel this way. All human beings make mistakes, some just cover them up better than others. The first step in changing this dilemma is to find a way to forgive yourself for any mistakes you have made. For instance, Marissa made a mistake. When things started going bad with her husband, she reached out to an ex to talk to, and she also badmouthed her husband to her friends -- which he found out about. She now knows these things were wrong, but if she beats herself up about it, she will let him take advantage of her guilt and the dysfunction will get worse. She now knows why she did it and understands how she should have handled it instead. She has apologized for what she did, i.e., "I'm sorry I did that instead of tell you how lonely and abandoned I felt. But in my defense, I was afraid of you back then. You were so controlling that I feared that telling you how I felt would push you further away, so I told others instead. Now I understand that it was passive/aggressive and not fair. But I do promise to tell you when I'm feeling that way in the future." He still tries to guilt-trip her, however, and she tells him, "We have already worked this out, I've made you a promise, and I need you to stop bringing it up."

Marissa has also begun to work on her relationship with her father so she can break the pattern for good. If you have a problem with feeling "not good enough," you need to look at who first made you feel this way. It was probably a parent, maybe a teacher or boss, or an ex, or even your first love. Once you figure it out, sit down and write that person a letter, letting him or her know they were wrong about you and that it was really about their own bad behavior. To even the playing field, tell him or her what's wrong with them. It's best if you actually send the letter, but if not, you are still 75% on your way there just by writing it. Also, just to help out your self-esteem, make a list of your top ten best traits and look at the list regularly. Do not allow anyone to make you question who you are and if you are enough. If someone continues to treat you that way, you will have to save yourself by ending the relationship. But even if you end it, you must speak up first so that you will have your self-esteem back intact if and when you leave. You are "good enough."

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Q&A: Help! We're Losing Our Connection

Question:

I'm 22 and in a relationship with a good guy who is 24. We've been dating for a year now and lately we have been going through a lot of challenges. He is currently employed and I'm studying only at home. I have been experiencing problems talking to him about how I feel. At times I feel like he is being pushy by asking questions like, "Did you study today? What have you been doing all day?" These simple questions make me mad and he says he's just playing around. Our sex life is okay, but that chemistry and connection is not the same anymore. We talk about everything -- our financial life, our future, our families. Our love is still so strong, but I feel we are losing that special connection. What can I do?

Answer:

I suspect that the reason the special connection is going away is because of resentment on both of your parts. His questions about how you spend your time makes me think that he resents that you're not working and you "get" to stay home all day. His comments seem passive/aggressive and I don't blame you for being mad. Set a boundary with him by telling him clearly that you want him to stop asking those questions because it makes you feel guilty for staying at home. Then, ask him what he is truly upset about and if he resents your staying at home instead of working. Make him promise he'll tell you what the problems are instead of making those kinds of comments. Also, you may end up needing to get a part-time job.

I also suspect that you are feeling insecure from staying home all day. Figure out what your own resentments are and discuss them with him. Women who stay home often feel like he's out doing fun things while your life is boring. It does sound like your life is boring, so you need to fix that -- take a class at the university (instead of from home) or go out to lunch with friends. Both of you sound like you need more fun in your life, both together and separately. If the two of you don't solve those resentments soon, the special connection will continue to disappear. However, since it has just been one year, you should be able to fix this issue pretty quickly. Good luck!

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Why We Let People Control Us

I just recently watched the HBO movie "Going Clear" about Scientology. It was quite upsetting to see how easy it is to "mind control" people. Of course as a therapist I see mind control cases in every day life with my clients. Most of the people who come and see me for help are the "victims" of spouses they let "mind control" them. Frightingly, the techniques are pretty much the same.

To "mind control," they first convince you that you are not perfect, which is easy since none of us are. But these" controlling" people then convince us that we should be perfect (even though they aren't). Then they continually criticize us reminding us of how imperfect we are. They tell us directly or indirectly that we are bad, insinuating that they can tell us what we need to do to be good. {What they really means is that they will guide us into satisfying their every need.} We then begin chasing their approval, hoping that some day we will be "good enough." And of course in their eyes we will never reach that unattainable goal because they will never give up controlling us. "Controllers" need to be fed constant adoration by their victims to empower their fake confidence.

People who need to control others are actually very scared deep inside, scared of getting out of control of their own lives, so they feel better if they can stay in control of us. Controllers are insecure people who need to control others to feel good about themselves. They want to feel like they are better than most people.

Controlling people try to keep their own flaws and insecurities a secret, just as the leaders of Scientology did. And when you or anyone confronts them, they usually deny, blame you, or avoid and pretend like you never said anything. They have to hide their issues to maintain their control over you.

Controllers have very few, if any, real friends, only fans, admirers, or followers. It's easy to be attracted to a controlling person because they seem to have all the answers. You admire them and want to be like them. The problem is that they are at one extreme and you are at another. Just your unrealistic attraction to them says that you don't have a strong identity yourself, so you want them to provide you with one. As you spend time with controlling people, you do not become stronger, you become weaker. What is healthy is to confront them when you disagree so that your own identity forms and you can create a healthy, equal relationship.

To become stronger, you must confront your controller, let them know you feel controlled and will no longer accept their bad treatment and then start standing up for yourself. And yes, you may lose this person because the relationship was built on he or she controlling you. This person may only be able to have out-of-balance relationships like this. But you will never know, until and unless, you confront. And the option to stay and be controlled is not an option once you know what is going on, just as it hasn't been for many Scientology followers.

My Tucson client Tanya had a mother with a hysterical personality, constantly yelling and screaming and criticizing her. She was seldom home, since she was usually out partying with men -- and married 7 of them. Her mom let men control her, telling Tanya that "You're nothing without a man," teaching Tanya to put up with men's abuse. Tanya herself married several controlling men, but it was her mom's abuse that taught her to put up with them. Her latest husband is self-righteous and tells her what she should have done better from morning til night, such as cleaning the sink, picking up her shoes, and on and on. Though her mother has passed, Tanya is writing an angry letter to her mom telling her that she was wrong to treat her the way she did, and how her mom set her up to marry controlling men.

It doesn't just happen to women, men get controlled too. My Denver client Mel was married years ago to a controlling woman and then one day just up and left her for another woman. Funny though that this new wife of 15 years controls him worse than the first one. He works, yet make hers meals, does her laundry, and has put all of his assets in her name. He has never dealt with his overly controlling father who set him up to take this abuse. He's afraid of him even more that he's afraid of his second controlling wife.

We let people control us because somewhere along the line we've learned to put up with it. Confront the person who started this pattern in your life and you will be less likely to continue allowing others to control you.

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Testimonials

Hi Carolyn,

Just wanted to say thank you for yesterday. I’m truly grateful. You gave me that glimmer of hope that was completely gone. I actually had a peaceful sleep last night… and it’s been years.

~ M in Colorado

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About Carolyn

Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for more than15 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 30 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and McCall’s named her one of the “Top 6 Passion Doctors” in the country. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 27 years.

You can find articles by Carolyn on her website and Examiner.com.

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How to get Carolyn Bushong's Relationship Advice:

Individual Counseling: l hour or ½hr sessions in office or phone, Health Insurance covers a portion. Couples Counseling: 1 ½ hr. sessions, Health Ins. covers a portion.
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Phone Counseling is a great way to do therapy, especially for the really busy person who's constantly on the go, or the person who is shy or hesitant to talk about their problem, or when the weather is bad and you don't want to drive to a therapist's office. It just makes sense in this day and age to be able to call and discuss a problem and get advice on a situation with having to leave work and drive to my office.

Email Advice: Visit Carolyn's website for more information.

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